This November, the Tasmanian Dance Festival (TDF) is launching “The Platform”, a series of events culminating in an evening of performances by local pre-professional dancers and performers.
With the goal of giving value, purpose and future direction to Tasmanian performers, TDF Directors Samantha Reason, Alison Turner and Aeshlie Wheeler are passionate about the future of Tasmania’s performing arts. “I’ve seen that there is a lot of talent in Tasmania,” says Reason. “I’ve experienced what it was like first-hand to become a pre-professional into a professional. There is a lot of talent here, but it is a big jump to go to the mainland to dance professionally.”
TDF is strongly focused on bridging the gap from a lifetime of dancing to the professional performer. There is a lack of employment opportunities for dancers in Tasmania, so The Platform will provide access to resources and connect performers to industry professionals.
“For The Platform, we’ve collaborated with dance schools from around Tasmania,” Wheeler says. “We’ve had 15 representatives from 15 dance schools judge on a panel for the auditions, selecting the 20 top performers who will perform in front of industry professionals.”
“Kelly Aykers will be conducting the live audition, so it will be fantastic for our top 20 performers to experience a real audition,” Reason adds. “Being in Tassie, this doesn’t happen much at all.”
The Platform has also secured the support and involvement of well-known dancer, singer and actor Josef Brown, who will chair a panel of judges for The Platform’s performance evening. “Because of Josef’s experience, if someone stands out to him who happens to be a ballerina, he will arrange for them to go and watch the Australian Ballet company rehearse and see first-hand what it’s like to be a professional ballerina,” says Reason. “We have done a lot of research. Tassie dancers are really excited about this opportunity. Rather than giving them prize money or a workshop, they are now going to see first-hand what their future could be like.”
Winners will be selected to engage in professional experiences such as “shadowing” professionals in their chosen field for two to three days in Melbourne or Sydney with flights and accommodation covered.
“We’ve already had an opportunity where a musician in Melbourne was looking for a talented dancer to feature in his music clip,” says Reason, “so we had an audition as part of The Platform, and a Tasmanian dancer had the opportunity to be featured in a music clip. That’s an example of the many things that we offer with our Platform event.”
Turner is most excited about what is being achieved through this event and says it’s about “creating opportunities for Tasmanian dancers in Tasmania so they are not always going to Melbourne and Sydney to have those experiences. As well, it’s about raising the level and awareness of the talent we have here. Those performers wouldn’t be who they are today without their teachers and mentors. If we can celebrate that and raise the exposure to industry professionals from interstate and internationally, then that’s a great outcome.”
The Platform event will take place on November 6, in Hobart and will provide a taste of what is to come with the Tasmanian Dance Festival launching in 2017. For more information about The Platform and the Tasmanian Dance Festival, visit www.tastalent.com or facebook.com/tasmaniandancefestival.
By Nicole Saleh of Dance Informa.
Photo (top): Photo courtesy of Tasmanian Dance Festival.